JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Brash-talking Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has been cast as the villain of Super Bowl XLVIII.
Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, a likely future Hall of Famer playing in the first Super Bowl of his 15-year NFL career, provides the sentimental story line.
Lost in the plot, until Monday at least, was the Broncos' Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the only cornerback taking the field Sunday at MetLife Stadium who has played in a Super Bowl.
Rodgers-Cromartie, 27, created media buzz Monday when he reiterated that if Broncos win the Super Bowl, he might retire. He first divulged those plans to The Denver Post on Dec. 26. Asked if he still plans to hang up his jersey, he said: “Yes, somewhat. Coming out of college, I gave myself a five-year goal. If I could just make it five years, I would be all right.
“Coming from a small school (Tennessee State) and of course playing six years, it has been a long journey and I am weighing my options. I am still a young guy and not a Champ Bailey or Peyton Manning, who have a legacy of going out on top. I had a goal of five years, and I reached that. I will see how I feel after the game.”
Regardless of his post-NFL plans, of more relevance this week is how Rodgers-Cromartie plays against Russell Wilson, Seattle's second-year quarterback.
“You can trust him,” Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said of Rodgers-Cromartie. “You know he's going to win his matchup. He's probably the most gifted athlete I have ever been around.
“Sometimes we watch him in practice and we are in awe of how quickly he moves and the things he reacts to. When the whole side of the field is shut down, it makes things a whole lot easier for the defense.”
Without “DRC,” the Broncos' Super Bowl chances likely would have been DOA. Bailey missed most of this season because of a foot injury. And the Broncos lost cornerback Chris Harris to a season-ending knee injury during the fourth quarter of their Jan. 12 playoff victory over San Diego.
Rodgers-Cromartie has been on this big stage before — and failed. As a rookie in Super Bowl XLIII, he was one of three Arizona defenders in the end zone when Pittsburgh wide receiver Santonio Holmes caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with only 35 seconds remaining, lifting the Steelers to a 27-23 victory. Never mind that the catch was one of the greatest in Super Bowl history, and that Rodgers-Cromartie wasn't the main man assigned coverage.
Five years later, he still thinks about that play.
“Yes, I do. Not to the point where it beats me up, but just to the point that we were that close to getting a ring,” he said. “Anytime the Super Bowl comes back around, they tend to show that play. You can't dwell on it. That was the main thing I learned from that game. I am looking forward to playing in this one.”